Nobody likes to be interrupted.
When someone cuts you off in the middle of a sentence, it makes you feel like what you’re saying isn’t important. While your natural response might be to jump in and interrupt the interrupter or speak even louder, that only makes the situation worse, says communications skills coach Stacey Hanke, author of Influence Redefined.
“Every day we are trying to influence always-connected, digitally-distracted, multitasking individuals,” Hanke says. “If you are not more engaging and compelling and find yourself getting interrupted regularly, you and your message will lose every time.”
One of the reasons why you keep getting interrupted might be because you aren’t pausing and it takes too long to get your point across, Hanke says. Give yourself permission to pause. This will allow you time to gather your thoughts and focus on what is relevant to your listener. Write down bullet points before a conversation, and use those bullet points to help you get back on track.
“When we are not pausing we are saying too much, using words that are fillers (uh, um, so, and, but…) causing our sentences to run together. As a result, we frustrate our listeners, and they begin to interrupt,” Hanke tells HER Magazine.
If you are soft-spoken, that communicates a lack of confidence, and if you ramble you invite your listeners to disconnect, she says. Your body language needs to be consistent with your message. If it’s not, you could be sending the wrong message. “When your body language is distracting you jeopardize what your listener hears and what they take away,” she says. Your words communicate how vital your points are or why your listeners should take action, make sure your body language isn’t communicating the opposite of what you are trying to say.
Here are three things you can do to becoming an influential communicator:
1) Record yourself.
Is your message coming across the way you want it to? Take a look at yourself through the eyes and ears of your listeners. Use your smartphone or any recording device to listen to the way you deliver a message. “Increase your awareness of how others perceive you rather than what you believe to be true. The most effective way of doing this is by audio and video recording yourself,” Hanke says.
2) Get feedback.
Ask for constructive feedback from someone you trust will tell you the truth instead of what you want to hear. Have them listen to your delivery and message during a meeting and ask them to take notes on things you would like to improve. Do not accept “Good” or “Nice Job.” “These responses are not feedback,” she says. Write down comments and feedback on a post-it note and place that note somewhere where you constantly see it so that you can focus on areas of improvement.
Think like an athlete who practices several hours a week so they can perform to the best of their ability. “You can only enhance your influence when you are practicing every day during all conversations,” she says. During the next meeting, sales pitch or face-to-face conversation, think about the words you choose to make sure they resonate with your listener.
The next time you have a message to share, pay attention to how you sounded rather than how you felt during a conversation. Did you use a lot of filler words? Did you sound confident, knowledgeable or trustworthy? These are the questions you should be asking yourself if you want to become an influential communicator and stop getting interrupted.